Developers are exhausted. Now, managers are worried they will quit

3 months ago 28
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A combination of skills shortages, growing demand for smart technology and the ongoing chip shortage spells bad news for software teams.

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Developers face mounting workloads as demand for connected products grows exponentially. 

Image: SARINYAPINNGAM, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Businesses say they are worried about the wellbeing of their software development teams in the face of increased demand for 'smart' connected products and services.

Research commissioned by The Qt Company and carried out by Forrester Consulting found that the connected service industry faces a "severe skills shortage" as manufacturing and design demands for embedded devices and products becomes even more complex.

At the same time, organizations face supply chain issues due to the ongoing semiconductor shortages: some 75% of the 262 connected-device manufacturers surveyed said demand is outstripping supply, creating delivery challenges for manufacturers and adding another layer of pressure and complexity to the development process.

Developers are particularly susceptible to the challenges facing the digital ecosystem, with high demand for fast turnarounds and the need to battle complex development processes that create backlogs for teams. As pressures on software teams grow, 65% of companies said they are concerned about the wellbeing of their developers.

Marko Kaasila, SVP of product management at the Qt Company, said the unforeseen need for rapid digital transformation in recent months has placed " a huge drain on developers ," who have not been equipped with the tools they need to manage the dramatic rate of change.

"The welfare of software developers in today's fast-paced world has been overlooked as companies' digitally innovate in order to survive," said Kaasila.

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Forrester's researchers said organizational and cultural practices pose a "perennial problem" to businesses when they attempt to digitally transform.

In North America, 73% of business leaders said they are either concerned or extremely concerned about developer wellbeing, compared to 66% in Asia-Pacific (APAC) and 58% in Europe.

Fears that the pressures felt by software teams will lead to a loss of talent is also a concern among business decision makers, particularly as demand for developers and other skilled technology professionals grows.

In Europe, nearly a quarter (23%) of respondents to the QT and Forrester survey expressed concern about high developer churn rate, compared to 19% in North America and 17% of leaders in APAC.

Jeffrey Hammond, vice president, principal analyst at Forrester, said high churn rates ultimately slow down progress and risk throwing business projects off-kilter. "Whenever a developer leaves or a new developer comes onto a team there's an inevitable period of adjustment, as the team learns how to work together in a high-performance manner," Hammond told TechRepublic.

Even if a new developer comes from the same industry, they still need to learn the company's business, how it works and what makes it unique, said Hammond.

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"I need to learn all the processes that the company uses to deliver code, and I need to learn the code base and how it works. This takes time and reduces productivity… software development is a team game, cohesion and trust are important to productivity, and churn makes both harder to achieve."

While business leaders cited difficulties in scaling products across multiple platforms, maintaining software and a lack of efficient development tools among their largest technical challenges, researchers discovered that organizations are less challenged by individual technology concerns than they are those related to processes, people or the wider organization.

European and APAC decision makers reported a lack of geographical cohesion as their biggest organizational challenge, while a lack of shared objectives and rising costs topped the list in North America.

These challenges are having a knock-on effect on performance, researchers found. Four in five teams reported negative impacts on their product delivery efforts, while only 5% of survey respondents said they have not experienced any delays in product delivery.

More than two-thirds of projects are being delayed by at least a month, while almost a third are delayed by more than six months. Respondents in the industrial electronics sector see the worst delays, with half of survey respondents reporting that their their projects have been delayed by six months or more.

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